Not many details or damage assessment reports are available after the French airstrikes on ISIL targets in Raqqa over the weekend, except for reports that the strikes were launched from bases in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, and were conducted “in coordination with U.S. forces, which have compiled an extensive target list in Raqqa.”
Reuters reports that the French aircraft “struck a command center, recruitment center for jihadists, a munitions depot and a training camp for fighters.”
In related news, the New York Times is reporting that U.S. aircraft “for the first time” attacked hundreds of ISIL oil tankers in Syria. The smuggling of crude oil via these trucks has been a significant source of revenue for the Islamic terrorists.
Until Monday, the United States had refrained from striking the fleet used to transport oil, believed to include more than 1,000 tanker trucks, because of concerns about causing civilian casualties. As a result, the Islamic State’s distribution system for exporting oil had remained largely intact.
But no more.
On Monday, 295 trucks were in the area [where as many as 1,000 trucks have been observed…waiting to receive oil], and more than a third of them were destroyed, United States officials said. The A-10s dropped two dozen 500-pound bombs and conducted strafing runs with 30-millimeter Gatling guns. The AC-130s attacked with 30-millimeter Gatling guns and 105-millimeter cannons.
According to the Times, plans for the strike had been developed well before the terrorist attacks in Paris as part of a campaign called Tidal Wave II.
It is named after the World War II effort to counter Nazi Germany by striking Romania’s oil industry. Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, who in September assumed command of the international coalition’s campaign in Iraq and Syria, suggested the name.
The Times adds: “To reduce the risk of harming civilians, two F-15 warplanes dropped leaflets about an hour before the attack warning drivers to abandon their vehicles, and strafing runs were conducted to reinforce the message.”
Read more here.
The New York Times and other major news sources are reporting that France is conducting major airstrikes on ISIL targets in Syria, focusing on Raqqa, the ISIL stronghold in Syria and the self-proclaimed Islamic State capital.
Prior to these strikes, France “had been sparing in its strikes against targets in Syria.” according to the Times.
French defense official says the country has launched a “massive” series of airstrikes on the Islamic State group’s de facto capital in Syria, destroying a jihadi training camp and a munitions dump.
The ministry spokesman said Sunday that the strikes on Raqqa involved 12 aircraft, including 10 fighter jets, and 20 bombs were dropped.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.